Review ·

The Evening Episode -- vocalist Teresa Eggers and bassist Chris Loental contributing to drummer Ira Skinner's and guitarist Brian True's programming and instrumentation -- is sometimes compared to a master of down-tempo, dreamscape-inspired music: the Notwist. But despite some glitchy programmed drums and some similar-sounding keyboards, I can't see why.


Sporting a female lead vocalist and engaging in slow, electronic music, the obvious comparisons to Beth Gibbons (Portishead) and Maura Davis (Denali, Ambulette) have also been made. Eggers's voice is much more reminiscent of Amy Millan's (of Stars and Broken Social Scene), although Millan commands more attention with her dynamic and present style. Eggers has a competent and adequate voice and is more talented than a number of today's female vocalists. But it lacks that quality that raises the hairs on the back of your neck, a quality that separates vocalists such as Gibbons and Davis from other female voices.


The musical and programmed aspects of The Physicist Has Known Sin are equally adequate, but they, too, fail to reach the heights, ambitions or prowess of the bands that the Evening Episode is compared to. The band was picked up by Slowdance Records after winning over fans with its live performances, but this album was recorded in a home studio, and it comes off feeling insulated. The guiding hand of a knowledgeable and experienced producer would have done wonders for The Physicist Has Known Sin. Only if the members of the Evening Episode settle on a simpler and less muddled songwriting tact, like they employ on "We'll Be Read," will they begin to come into their own. But these songs lack drive or build up: choruses appear out of nowhere, vocal melodies change, new keyboards are introduced, leaving me wondering where the focus of the piece had gone, or if there was ever one to begin with.


The genius of bands such as the Notwist is subtlety. That band's songwriting is solid, powerful and never allowed to be constrained by any element of the song. The members of the Evening Episode need to build their songs around a stronger skeleton, instead of letting the compositions slip from part to part and hoping myriad glitchy electronic elements smooth out the transitions. The songs on The Physicist Has Known Sin have no tension or build up -- and, therefore, no objective, no answers, and no release.


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